Accused Manahawkin, NJ mobster rounded up in NY mafia crackdown
An 83-year-old Ocean County man was rounded up along with a dozen New Yorkers in a federal crackdown on mafia organized crime on Tuesday.
Benjamin “Benji” Castellazzo, of Manahawkin, is accused of illegal activities as the underboss of the Colombo crime family, federal prosecutors announced.
Accused crime family boss Andrew “Mush” Russo, 87, of Long Island, was arrested and charged with racketeering, while accused consigliere Ralph DiMatteo, 66, also of Long Island, remained at large as of Tuesday.
The members and associates of the Colombo crime family of La Cosa Nostra and a member of the Bonanno organized crime family are accused of various illegal activities, including labor racketeering, attempted extortion and extortion, as well as money laundering conspiracy.
A 19-count indictment was unsealed on Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn, against 13 men and one woman.
The rest of the list of defendants, all from New York, is as follows:
- Vincent “Vinny Unions” Ricciardo, 75, Franklin Square
- Richard Ferrara, 59, Brooklyn
- Theodore “Teddy” Persico, Jr., 58, Brooklyn
- Michael Uvino, 56, Garden City
- Thomas Costa, 52, West Islip
- Domenick Ricciardo, 56, Franklin Square
- John “Bazoo” Ragano, 59, Franklin Square
- Joseph Bellantoni, 39, Massapequa
- John Glover, 62, Queens
- Vincent Martino, 43, Medford
- Erin Thompkins, 53, Franklin Square
Ragano, an accused member of the Bonanno crime family, was charged with loansharking, fraud and drug trafficking offenses.
Those arrested are all accused of a “long-standing, ruthless pattern” of strong-arming a labor union and scheming to use the union’s healthcare program to steal and launder vendor contract funds, according to Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Jacquelyn Kasulis.
The accused mobsters also took part in extortionate loan sharking, money laundering and fraud, as well as drug trafficking, Kasulis said.
Among evidence collected, federal prosecutors referred to a “consensually recorded conversation” on June 21, during which Vincent Ricciardo threatened to kill a man known as “John Doe 1” if he did not listen to demands.
“I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids, right in front of his f-----g house, you laugh all you want pal, I’m not afraid to go to jail, let me tell you something, to prove a point? I would f-----g shoot him right in front of his wife and kids, call the police, f--k it, let me go, how long you think I’m gonna last anyway,” Vincent Ricciardo said, according to prosecutors.
He was arrested in North Carolina and was slated for arraignment in federal court in Charlotte, while the others were arraigned via video conference in federal court in Brooklyn.
“The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a written statement, while adding that history repeats itself.
“These soldiers, consiglieres, under bosses, and bosses are obviously not students of history, and don't seem to comprehend that we're going to catch them.”